A Complete Guide to RV / Camper Models and Classes

So you want to go RVing? Where do you start? You’ve seen it on TV or have family members/friends who already RV. Just deciding what you want to do is the very first step:

  • Weekend camping – Short weekend trips close to home
  • Vacation camping – Driving cross country for trips lasting more than a week
  • Snowbirding (part-time) – Escaping the winter weather for months at a time
  • Full-time living – Selling your house and living solely in an RV

Here is a Guide to finding the best camper van:  How to Find the Best Camper Vans.

When you know what you need the RV for, then you will be able to choose the RV that will fit your needs.

Towable 

An RV that is towed, pulled by a truck or a car

Motorized

An RV that combines the engine and living quarters together into one full unit

Specialty

An RV that is specialized for a specific purpose and can be towed or motorized

  • Horse Trailer
  • Ice Fish House
  • RV’s for the Disabled

Park Model

An RV/house that can be moved and usually used in RV Park resorts for long-term/permanent stays

  • Park Model RV’s

RVing is a lifestyle. Shopping for your new lifestyle doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Talk to friends and family and get online. This will help you get a good head start before actually going to the dealers or deciding to buy from a private owner.

There are many types of RV’s and just as many manufacturers. You will definitely have to do your homework here. This guide will give you a good idea of the classes and models out there. It may seem overwhelming at first, but it will all be worth it when you finally get to get out and enjoy all that nature has to offer.

Conventional Travel Trailer

  • Many floorplans and sizes
  • “At home” amenities
  • Sleeps up to 10
  • 12-40 ft.
  • $8,000 to $95,000 (avg.)

Travel trailers are the most popular model of RV. For a lower cost you can get many sizes and floorplan options. You can also use an SUV or smaller truck to tow it with eliminating escalating costs of a heavy duty truck. You have the option of a full kitchen and bathroom and extra bedrooms like a bunkhouse which also comes with an extra bathroom. Also comes with slides and two entrance doors.

Pros

  • Self-contained
  • Easy to set-up and tear down
  • Easy to tow

Cons

  • Backing up to get into spaces
  • Tail wagging the dog when in tow

Fifth Wheel Trailer

  • Two-levels, larger living areas
  • Towed by truck
  • Sleeps up to 6
  • 21-44 ft.
  • $18,000 to $160,000 (avg.)

Fifth wheels are preferred by RVers who live full-time in their RV’s. It has split level living and has more room in the living area than any other model/class.  You can have up to six slide outs which expands space to 400-plus square feet, which is the size of a small apartment. Very comfortable with all the luxury amenities of a Class A Motorhome.

There are many floorplan options from having either a front or rear living, to having two bedrooms, and a front large bathroom or a front kitchen, plus many other layouts. You decide what works best for you here more than any other model or class: Lots of space, many options.

Pros:

  • Many layout options; floorplans
  • Costs less upfront/maintenance than a Motorhome
  • Easier to tow than a travel trailer

Cons:

  • Set-up and tear down time
  • Needs heavy duty truck to pull safely; dually

Expandable Travel Trailer

  • Sleeping areas expand
  • Hard sides
  • Sleeps up to 6
  • 19-30 ft.
  • $10,000 to $30,000 (avg.)

Expandable’s are a cross between a travel trailer and a pop-up camper. The ends of the trailers expand for more sleeping room. These are light and affordable. They contain a kitchen, bath and dining area.

Pros:

  • Can be towed with smaller vehicles like cars or SUV’s

Cons:

  • Setting up and tearing down in inclement weather

Sport Utility RV

  • Garage in rear for toys: Motorcycle/ATV
  • Travel trailer floor plans
  • Sleeps up to 8
  • 19-40 ft.
  • $10,300 to $170,000 (avg)

RV’s with rear garages for toys such as ATV’s and motorcycles. The garage ramp lowers into a patio in many RV’s. A wall divides the garage from the living area.. There are beds and couches in garage along with half-baths in many units. There is a loft area for extra sleeping and storage. Great for sporting events and parties.

Pros:

  • All amenities available
  • Slide-outs to increase living area
  • Garage ramp/door lowers and becomes a patio with awning.

Cons:

  • Main living area is smaller because of garage
  • Kitchen and living area become one in the same
  • Less storage in living area and bedroom

Folding Camping Trailer

  • Folds and lightweight
  • Cross between tent and RV
  • Sleeps up to 8
  • 8-24 ft.
  • $6,000 to $22,000 (avg.)

A cross between a tent and a travel trailer: The bottom half is the trailer and the top half is the tent. This is the least expensive of all RV’s. These have the same basic amenities as a travel trailer. These are great for weekend camping trips. They have a kitchen area with appliances and fresh/waste water tanks. They also have pull-out beds and can sleep up to eight; great for the family for short trips.

Pros:

  • Can tow with a car

Cons:

  • Set-up time especially in inclement weather

Truck Camper 

  • Fits in bed of truck
  • Easily goes off-road
  • Sleeps up to 6
  • 8-20 ft.
  • $6,000 to $55,000 (avg.)

A self-contained RV that fits in the bed of any pickup truck. It comes with or without slides. Slides increase not only space but the price. The prices depend on amenities and build quality. These are not built for full-timing.

Pros:

  • Can go off-road
  • Full kitchen and bath

Cons:

  • Increase chances of tipping over, especially when off-road
  • Top heavy
  • White knuckle syndrome
  • Only for 1 to 2 people

Type A Motorhome

  • Luxury amenities
  • Lots of room
  • Sleeps up to 8
  • 21-44 ft.
  • $60,000 to $500,000+ (avg.)

Class A Motorhomes have luxury amenities and come with the highest price tag. Luxury is what they are known for. They are also known for costing more to maintain. You can get them with or without slides and with a gas (front/pull engine) or diesel (rear/push engine). You can full-time in a Class A or part-time. They also come with a generator system so boondocking is not a problem. If you get caught up in inclement weather or are unable to reach your destination, pulling over and parking is easy. They come with tow systems in order to tow a vehicle for transportation when you are parked.

Pros:

  • All the comforts of home while on wheels
  • Satellite systems
  • Easy to drive
  • Easy to set up: You don’t have to set-up outside right away, which is great in rainy weather

Cons:

  • Motorhomes are expensive
  • Come with high maintenance and fuel costs
  • Size

Type B Motorhome

  • Van like
  • Sleeps up to four
  • 16-22 ft.
  • $60,000 to $130,000 (avg.)

Easy to drive and is self-contained. Also, know as a van camper. They come with raised roofs and are expensive. These come with sinks, hot water, a shower, and a fridge.

Pros:

  • Same amenities as the larger Motorhomes
  • Versatility
  • Smaller size
  • Drivability: From campground to store

Cons:

  • Only comfortable for 1 to 2 people

Type C Motorhome

  • Luxury amenities
  • Bed over cab
  • Sleeps up to 8
  • 21-35 ft.
  • $43,000 to $200,000+ (avg.)

Class C Motorhomes are on a smaller scale than a Class A. These units come with slide outs to increase space. These are less expensive than the Class A’s and come with nice amenities.

  • See the full Class A vs Class C RV comparison here

Pros:

  • Can eat, watch television and use the bathroom while in motion
  • Lower costs: Upfront and maintenance
  • Great for families

Horse Trailers

  • Two levels
  • Sleeps up to 4 people/8 horses
  • Up to 51 ft.
  • $20,000 to $200,00 (avg)

Specialty trailer for getting to equestrian events. Economical and convenient. The rear is for a secure stall for horses and front is the living area. This unit contains a kitchen, bath, and bed.

Pros:

  • Comforts of home
  • No need for hotels
  • With horses at all times
  • Plenty of storage for gear and feed

Cons:

  • Smell from stalls into a living area

Ice Fish Houses

  • Many floor plans/sizes
  • Comfortable amenities
  • Sleeps up to 6
  • 6-30 ft.
  • $3,000 to $20,000

Built for sub-zero weather conditions. Keeps you sheltered from the elements when out in nature ice fishing. Some come with bed, bath, kitchen, heat and satellite television.

Pros:

  • Lightweight, maneuverable
  • Can be towed with an ATV

RV’s for the Disabled

  • Mostly class B/van size
  • Comes with lifts for wheelchairs
  • Varies in length and cost

Accessibility for the disabled. Includes bath, bed, kitchen and living areas.

Pros:

  • Lifts and ramps for wheelchairs
  • Widened doorways
  • Lowered counters
  • Roll-in showers and under sinks

Park Model RV’s

  • Trailer attached
  • Used for seasonal housing
  • Sleeps 11+
  • Under 400 sq ft.
  • $20,000 to $80,000 (avg)

Park model RV’s can be moved, but are usually planted in RV Resorts. They are popular with snowbirds that use them as winter time housing. There is more living space than in an RV. They need to be externally hooked-up to electric, sewer and water like an RV. Many come with loft areas for more space. More like house living than a typical RV.

Pros:

  • Largest living space available of all RV’s
  • Can leave in resort area, no need to tow
  • Great for seasonal living

Cons:

  • Having to tow can be difficult due to size and length

Choosing Your Model/Class

Which model/class RV you choose depends mostly on how you use your RV. Fifth wheels and Motorhomes are best for full-time living, whereas travel trailers and truck campers are built for short vacations and weekend camping.

Fifth wheels and Motorhomes have more luxury amenities and larger living spaces. Travel trailers and truck campers are more compact and don’t have the living space and storage capabilities for long-term living. Many people will start out purchasing a travel trailer or truck camper first and then move up to a fifth wheel or Motorhome later on and vice-versa. It all depends on how you decide to use your RV.

Some people purchase two RV’s, one for up north in the summer and another for down south in the winter. This way there isn’t any towing involved. Or they may end up buying a park model when they find a resort/place they really like and want to stay permanently.

There are the specialty RV’s, ice fish houses and horse trailers, which are great for their intended uses.

The model/class you purchase is all up to you. You can start small and go big or vice-versa, depending on whether you want to full-time or part-time in your RV. You can also change models/classes if you find that a particular style doesn’t fit how you want to use it.

Having many models/classes to choose from benefits you in that you can change up whenever you feel you need a different set-up to fit your needs or want a change. Nothing is set in stone.

References

RV Trader is a great site to see and get a feel for all the models/classes out there. YouTube has great videos of walkthroughs with a wealth of information.

RV forums are also a great place for advice and for information on the different models/classes out there. You can also get a feel for the best manufacturers out there; the ones with the best product. Here are some popular sites:

Here are some related RV guide articles you may be interested in reading: